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Greenlands hub proposed at former correctional centre site

Greenlands hub proposed at former correctional centre site

by Mike Robinson

EDEN MILLS - There is a small but growing movement to bring new life to the former Guelph Correctional Centre.

The group was promoting their cause at the recent Eden Mills Writers’ Festival.

On behalf of the group Norah Chaloner noted the correctional facility “has been closed since 2001 and maintained well by the province, and all of us through our taxes at great cost - over $1 million each year.”

Chaloner said “now it seems it has to be handed over to someone who will do something with it.”

She said it appeared that the province will likely hand the building over to the City of Guelph or even Conestoga College.

“What we are asking for as a group of citizens is that some of it be kept for the public good.”

The idea is to secure a parcel of the acreage to allow small scale diverse agriculture - urban agriculture which in turn would focus on local food production, Chaloner said.

She explained there are many groups within the city which need space to do these things and land is not available.

The group is also asking for designation of the gate house and the former superintendent’s house.

Those, she said, would be turned into retrofitted homes for the public to be able to see what happens when homes are retrofitted and what costs are involved.

Showcased would be all the things people need to know to head to a better future, Chaloner said.

The third, thing, she said, is that before the lands are handed off would be to designate the administration building to be used as a provincial hub for the environment.

“Sudbury has its Science North, Toronto has its Science Centre, but we have nobody concentrating on the food, water and energy - the things we need to know to move forward.”

She added there are so many issues such as water security, food security, long transit distances to get food to communities.

“Municipalities need to know how to do things  better.”

The proposed centre would act as a green hub for education.

“We have a minister of education now living in Guelph (MPP Liz Sandals). We, as a grassroots group talked with her.”

Chaloner said Sandals responded that if there was enough support the proposal, she would take it to the Legislature on their behalf.

“We have worked over the summer and we have a lot of good expertise around the table.”

She noted the group’s website is now established at

“We hope that some of this land will be saved for the public good. As everyone knows the development possibilities there are great. We just want to see some of it kept for the public.”

The groups wants to see the creation of a self-sustaining education, demonstration, and research hub (living lab) at the provincially owned former Guelph Correctional Centre (GCC).

The idea of the Yorklands Green Hub will bring together businesses, organizations, and people of all ages and interests – to learn, work, share and create, with the common purpose of being engaged stewards of our land, food, water, and public wellbeing.

September 27, 2013


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